Michigan’s high school sports association rejected a call from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to pause high school sports because of high virus transmission rates.
“We’re going to play two days of basketball and really make no changes for the spring,” Michigan High School Athletic Association executive director Mark Uyl told the Free Press on Friday. “We followed the orders—every order—going back to July. Whenever the orders have allowed us to play, we’ve played. So, obviously, local schools will have decisions to make, it could be on a league-wide basis. But once we get through basketball tomorrow night, everything is outdoors.”
Whitmer, a Democrat, on Friday said that she has urged high schools in the state to voluntarily close for in-person instruction for two weeks after spring break, amid soaring COVID-19 transmission rates in the state.
She also urged youth sports to pause and for residents to avoid indoor dining for the same period to help slow the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
“A policy change alone won’t change the tide. We need everyone to step up and take personal responsibility here,” she told a press conference, when asked why she didn’t issue any mandatory orders and instead opted for a recommendation. “We all need to go above and beyond the rules we have in place.”
“Right now our numbers are alarming, and we all have a role to play to get our state moving in the right direction again,” she added. “That’s why I’m renewing my call on the federal government to surge additional vaccines to our state.”
Uyl told Bally Sports that athletes must be tested for COVID-19 once a week. That, combined with spring sports being outdoors, makes it safe to continue playing, he said.
“Certainly, districts are going to have to make decisions on their local conditions and circumstances, but that’s the guidance we’re giving to our schools, literally as we speak, and that’s where we’ll be Monday.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), in a document (pdf) shared late Friday on its Twitter account, reported that three key metrics used to determine how fast the CCP virus is spreading in the state “are all increasing.”
In particular, the percent positivity—the percentage of all COVID-19 tests that yield positive results—has increased to 15.6 percent statewide, and is increasing in all regions. Case rates have also increased to 375 percent from a low point in mid-February. Hospitalizations attributed to the CCP virus have also increased over the past month, and the percentage of inpatient beds taken up by people with the virus have increased 203 percent from mid-February.
The nature of the CCP virus cases in the recent surge are also different from last year, the department noted. In 2020, seniors were disproportionately affected by the CCP virus. However, the past month has seen case increases and case numbers highest among younger people. Those aged 20-29 and 30-39 are seeing the highest case rates.
Outbreaks are “most prevalent” among K-12 settings, according to the department, reporting that case rates for children 0-9 and 10-19 are “at an all-time high and are more than quadruple from a month ago.”
The state confirmed 7,834 new CCP virus cases and 26 CCP virus related deaths on Friday. The death rate as of Friday is at 2.2 percent.